Global Warming: What we don't know

What do we know about global warming – about the state of our climate? When it comes down to it, we don’t know that much. Attempting to simulate the behavior of our atmosphere via quantitative (computer) models has proven an incredibly challenging endeavour. The complexities involved in such a task are only now beginning to be appreciated by some, as noted in a great NYPost piece (Not that Simple) by Roy W. Spencer, a research scientist with the National Space Science and Technology Center:

Contrary to popular accounts, very few scientists in the world – possibly none – have a sufficiently thorough, “big picture” understanding of the climate system to be relied upon for a prediction of the magnitude of global warming. To the public, we all might seem like experts, but the vast majority of us work on only a small portion of the problem.

Mr. Spencer summarizes the current state of climate research very concisely:

I believe that when the stabilizing effects of precipitation systems are better understood and included into the models, predictions of global warming will be scaled back. Despite current inadequacies, climate models are still our best tools for forecasting global warming. Those tools just aren’t sharp enough yet.

So what gives – Spencer must be some shill for big oil, right? Well, ExxonSecrets – a site devoted to ” Documenting Exxon-Mobil’s funding of climate change skeptics” has a page devoted to him…but it simply displays his valid qualifications. Can anyone indicate where any of his research is flawed, or is this yet another ad hominem attack because Spencer doesn’t toe the line on athropogenic climate change? Roy Spencer is certainly qualified when it comes to speaking about climate change (per the NYPost article):

Roy W. Spencer is principal research scientist at the Global Hydrology and Climate Center of the National Space Science and Technology Center in Huntsville, Ala. He is also U.S. team leader for the AMSR-E instrument flying on NASA’s Terra satellite.

More on Spencer’s qualifications:

Dr. Roy Spencer is a principal research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. In the past, he has served as Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Dr. Spencer is the recipient of NASA’s Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and the American Meteorological Society’s Special Award for his satellite-based temperature monitoring work. He is the author of numerous scientific articles that have appeared in Science, Nature, Journal of Climate, Monthly Weather Review, Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, Journal of Climate and Applied Meteorology, Remote Sensing Reviews, Advances in Space Research, and Climatic Change.

Dr. Spencer received his Ph.D. in Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin in 1981.

Rather than attack the man, can anyone attack the arguement he puts forth?

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